Author Archives: Brenna Chen

If Your Kids Are Stubborn About Hiking…

Hiking makes me happy. It’s a rare chance for me to walk and talk with no obligations or responsibilities. It’s so different that the usual cycle of school, homework, classes and stress that I think of it as a reward, not a duty. But lately with the stress of junior year I just can’t find the time to hike. Or maybe I’m just too lazy? But I got to wondering: hiking does make me happy and I know it provides exercise that I need much more of, but why can’t I find the motivation to get out of my bed and take that stroll? So then I began to think: do parents in the Stroller Hikes community have trouble getting their kids to step out of the house with the tablets and electronics, and actually talk and walk? I know I may have been a little reluctant to be honest…

As a teenager I can understand a bit of both perspectives and both parts of the struggle. On one side I’m still just a child; I don’t want to have to go outside because it’s so cold, it takes too much energy, I’m just tired… But on the other side I understand the parent, who just wants what’s good for the child…

So I’ve promised my mom we’ll go hiking to witness the beautiful autumn leaves, which I had somehow been totally oblivious to until she had pointed it out. And after some digging I found an article that may help any parents with stubborn kids like me: http://www.wta.org/go-outside/kids/how-to/top-ten-tips-for-hiking-with-reluctant-kids. (Essentially, first gradually adjust your children to the outdoors through small strolls at first, and continually make the stroll enjoyable and fun for them; ask them what they want and create activities that align with their interests and personalities. But overall, just remember to stay positive and simply get them outdoors more, whether you’re hiking, strolling or simply admiring the scenery!)

Also feel free to reply back and let me know if you have trouble getting your kids to go hiking, and if you have any suggestions on any newsletters to write. (I’m running out of ideas haha) whether it’s advice on getting your kids to hike or any other topic you’re curious about; I’m open to anything! 🙂

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Why You Should Take Your Kids Hiking

In the Stroller Hikes community, it’s so easy to argue why you should hike; it makes you happier, allows downtime from the hustle of daily life and simply brings out the best of you. For me, whether it’s to push my limits or to relax, hiking provides a space and time period to think with no distractions – just the steady thump of my feet. However, hiking has scientifically proven physical benefits as well, which may be just the incentive for some to bring their kids and take the step outside!

Now with electronics so widely available, children have been spending more time on their devices – and less time exercising and outdoors. This increase in sedentary activities – activities sitting down – has actually been proven to lead to a rise in childhood obesity, sensory issues, and lack of balance.

So how does hiking make a difference in sensory skills? Imagine the senses you use when hiking – eyes to perceive the scenery and trail, ears to listen to your surroundings, occasionally your nose to the smell of trees and flowers – which are inactive when sitting at home staring at a screen.

Additionally, being outside less impacts our bodies – literally. Children who spent less time outdoors had an underdeveloped vestibular system – a portion of the inner ear that helps us balance, important for activities like sports and simple daily activities.

Lastly, the obesity epidemic. As the number of kids outdoors has been dropping; the number of obese children has increased, with childhood obesity tripling from the 1970s to 2002. And the cause is obvious; more time sitting down – and less time active in nature will definitely cause a faster weight gain.

Another issue that could benefit from nature is eyesight. From experience, I know how awful it is to have nearsightedness, in which anything further than a few feet is impossibly blurry. Although I contribute this mostly to genetics and too much time spent on electronics, I’ve discovered another cause through this article: a lack of the outdoors in my childhood.

Recent studies have chosen that the outdoors, specifically exposure to natural light, helps in limiting the growth of the eyeball and essentially hinders nearsightedness. A study at the American Academy of Ophthalmology Meeting in 2011,  a similar study at Taiwan, and yet another study from Australian revealed very similar results: “higher levels of total time spent outdoors…were associated with less [nearsightedness]…”

Surprisingly, this means that a usage of electronics is not only the main cause of bad eyesight; it’s simply not stepping outdoors enough! Just a simple hike a day could do wonders, in fact, not only to your mood but to your, and your childrens’ eyes.

Lastly, this might seem contradictory, but getting dirtier in your childhood will make you healthier in the future! Recently, with more antibiotics and medical developments available, we’ve been cleaner than ever – but is this a good thing? The belief of “cleaner is better” has been thoroughly ingrained in us, but in fact more exposure to dirt and nature allows more diverse microorganisms in your skin and body which actually improves your immune system, leading to a decreased risk for illness, disease, and other medical issues such as asthma. In fact, a University of Helsinki study has blamed the increasing prevalence of allergies on the decrease in the biodiversity of our environments. So, interacting with dirt and plants in fact makes people healthier, all the more incentive to go outside.

Now to many in the Stroller Hikes community these reasons may seem unnecessary; we go hiking because we enjoy it!  But this simply offers a more comprehensive and scientifically proven list to encourage others to hike, whether for mental and physical benefits.

For more information check out this article: https://www.outdoorproject.com/blog-news/4-scientific-reasons-why-kids-should-be-outdoors?utm_source=Tree-mail&utm_campaign=d011081aff-Maytreemail&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_6f91e58cba-d011081aff-30692753.

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Inspiring Hikers

When I hike, I’m amazed by the incredible diversity of the people around me. Even with more difficult hikes, there isn’t one stereotypical hiker; there’s always a mix of people, some of whom I would never expect, some of whom are experienced hikers families and children.

But what amazes me most is their determination. Even while hiking Mission Peak, a hike that made me want to turn back many times, I would see families, children and the elderly, who somehow had the stamina to take that next step, to keep going, to finish the hike. And even when they were clearly struggling, they would refuse to turn back, remaining optimistic and enthusiastic.

I will remember one experience clearly during that hike. Halfway through the hike, I passed an elderly man struggling through a particularly steep hill. Although I gave him an encouraging smile, I could almost guarantee he would turn back soon, but would in no way reach the peak. However, as I began to return from the peak I encountered him again, less than a hill away from the final location. I will never forget my shock as he continued to take step after step, faltering slightly at times but never looking back. How could this man, who was struggling after a mile of hiking, hike three miles and still keep going? What drove his determination and seemingly never-ending stamina?

These inspiring sights and hikers definitely motivated me to keep going, take that next step and not give up myself. And the next time I hike, it won’t only be for the hike but the uplifting experiences and sights I see as well that continue to amaze and inspire me.

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Bonding Through Hiking

Recently, while hiking with a friend, I was particularly amazed by a very simple thing: the openness and friendliness of hikers. Now, this may seem awfully mundane to many of you, but in a world where many are used to looking at their phones and completely ignoring surroundings, this was an incredibly surprising and refreshing experience to me that totally shifted my mood on the hike.

Now, my friend and I chose to hike Mission Peak, which is by no means an easy hike and is around three miles long and two thousand feet high. And although we might have had a more relaxing time on an easier trail, the hike was unique as it accentuated the uplifting effects hiking had on us and other hikers, complete strangers who demonstrated incredible compassion and concern towards us fellow hikers.

For instance, hikers passing by would often give a smile, a wave and even words of encouragement like “You can do it!” or “Almost there!” In fact, when my friend and I took a short break from the hike, a hiker even stopped by to ask if we needed any water. His willingness to sacrifice his precious water on such a scorching afternoon was truly the confirmation I needed that the incredibly friendly nature of hikers was not just a coincidence or misunderstanding.

In fact, I was beginning to feel the effects of hiking itself, smiling sympathetically and offering encouraging words to other hikers at other hikers as we painstakingly climbed the hills. The struggle of the hike had allowed me to bond with these seemingly complete strangers, as we were both going through – and struggling, at least for me – through this ordeal together. And in the end we were all sweating, groaning and panting, completely exposed and in no shape to put up appearances or shields up. In fact, when my friend and I finally reached the top, we started laughing in relief, and were soon joined in by other hikes, utterly breaking down the barriers between us.

So although I may not choose a hike as difficult as Mission Peak again, I’m still glad I could meet and bond with many incredibly uplifting and compassionate hikers on the way, who completely altered the mood of my hike and made it infinitely better.

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Mission Peak

The steady pound of my footsteps, accompanied with groans as the trail grew harder. The thick, dusty air, kicked up from our feet as we struggled to take the next step. The blazing sunlight on my back the sun crept higher, a persistent reminder that there was no turning back.

One day later, a shade darker and with multiple aching bones and sunburns, I sit back reminiscing on that memorable hike to Mission Peak. If only I had known when I was getting into…

After seeing the incredible views and pictures from Mission Peak, my desire for hiking this particular trail grew until one day, I finally arranged to hike the trail with a friend, both assuming it to be easy and relaxed.

We started the hike to Mission Peak with the sun just beginning to rise, a few rosy streaks peaking out onto the trail. Relatively flat at first, the trail soon rapidly grew more steep until we could only take a few steps until we needed a break, huffing and trying to add strength in our legs. Yet my friend and I persevered, refusing to give up on this hike and aiming for the ultimate goal – the peak (and Instagram-worthy photos along with it, of course).

So we kept on, step after step, hill after hill, mile after mile, a tiny fire rekindling in me every time I saw a hiker turn back. Yet my heart sunk when I saw the three steep hills that led to the peak. Almost crying out loud, I truly considered the fact of turning back, just calling it quits and sparing myself the pain of hiking those hills. But somehow we managed, and the satisfaction from standing on the peak made it infinitely worth the pain.

This hike totally blew me away; I had always imagined hiking as amiable, easy, and relaxed, but this hike was physically one of the hardest things I had to endure in a while. Step after step, with the end nowhere in sight, a hiker required infinite patience and faith to simply keep walking.

But what surprised me the most was the attitude of the other hikers. Many offered a friendly smile and words of encouragement, and it seemed as if this hike had somehow brought us closer through all the pain. So will I hike Mission Peak again? Probably not. But I was truly inspired by the bonds and experiences from hiking, and would definitely love to hike (an easier) trail next time :).

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